Long Beach--Dazzling + Dangerous exhibit makes for exciting viewing at Aquarium of the Pacific

.. By Joe Hilbers

Creepy and crawly beings always fascinate people and never more so when they are venomous and perhaps deadly as well. All of which makes the newest exhibition at Aquarium of the Pacific, entitled "Dazzling + Dangerous, Venomous Creatures" a real crowd pleaser.

The exhibition is not limited to just sea creatures with stingers and spines but also include land creatures of the southwest including scorpions, spiders, rattlesnakes and ants.

Long Beach's Aquarium of the Pacific has just completed its best year in attendance and this exhibition, and a host of other new activities, will appear to the young and old alike.

There is the Ray touchpool where one can actually touch the rays or shovelnose guitarfish. These are local residents of Southern California coastal waters. For the exhibit the barbs of the rays have been removed. Then there are the popular Sea Otters with their outlandish behavior and silken fur. This hair, the most unusual of any mammal, was almost their undoing in an earlier era when they were hunted without mercy. The Sea Otters presentation takes place three times each day.

We found the exhibit of jelly fish particularly fascinating with their long graceful lace-like tentacles trailing them in the water in every changing patterns. Beautiful to look at but in some species deadly to the touch.

For Dazzling + Dangerous The Aquarium has a 'Passport Book' which serves as a guide to the menacing creatures which are featured in different galleries, some with the tropical fish, others in the Blue Cavern. Some of the deadly creatures on display include the banded sea krait, the Stonefish, the ocean's most lethal fish, and the Greater blue-ringed octopus. Fortunately all these inhabit tropical waters of the South Pacific, a long way from Southern California.

Another 'must see' is the "Monsters of the Deep" a 3-D movie shown daily in the Honda Theater. With 3-D glasses the digital animation places every deep water creatures literally in your lap. It is a journey to ocean depths, cold, dark and with undersea volcanoes and strange creations amazingly adopted to the pressure of the deep ocean and its perpetual darkness.

The Shark Lagoon, in a 90,000 gallon habitat, brings visitors a pane of glass away from almost 100 sharks of several species and all sizes. And a special 10,000 square foot area allows visitors to actually touch and interact with bamboo, nurse, epaulette and zebra sharks in shallow pools. Needless to say kids love it.

We also looked in on the Lorikeet Forest themed as a tropical island. Part of Explorers Cove it is a walk through, hands-on aviary filled with dozens of Australian lorikeets. These are friendly birds that will without hesitation land on your hand, arm or your head if you care for that sort of headwear. Also it is possible to purchase a cup of nectar which will further induce the Lorikeets to become part of your person. With children it is a sure winner. With this writer, not so, recalling unfortunate encounters with seagulls and pigeons, .

There is so much to see and do at the Long Beach Aquarium that one visit in not enough to enjoy all the exhibits and programs. Certainly this Writer could not and will surely return again in the near future.

The Aquarium of the Pacific is family education and entertainment at its best. There are ongoing education classes for all age groups and a continuing schedule of special events like the 'Southeast Asia Day in October and the 'Autumn Festival in November.

The Aquarium is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day but December 25 and the weekend of the Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix in April. The Aquarium of the Pacific is now rated as the second best Family Destination in the Los Angeles area. It is located at 100 Aquarium Way in Long Beach. For more information call 562-590 3100 or on the web at www.aquariumofpacific.org Back to Table of Contents..

Last Update:9/10/06

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